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Rangers' Miller 'excited, anxious' to make NHL debut

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- J.T. Miller was talking fast.

Maybe that's how he normally is, or maybe he was just amped up and moving at a faster pace, knowing that in just a matter of hours he would be making his NHL debut.

The New York Rangers recalled Miller and Brandon Mashinter from the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League on Tuesday. Miller, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2011, will likely play center on the fourth line Tuesday at Prudential Center against the New Jersey Devils.

Mashinter will be sent back down to the Whale, Rangers assistant coach/general manager Jim Schoenfeld told

"I'm just excited right now, anxious, just ready to play obviously," said Miller, who expects to have at least 10 friends and family members at the game Tuesday. "I've been looking forward to it since I was a little kid. I just want to go out there and try to get into the game as soon as possible. I think that will help me the most."

Miller has eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points in 37 games with the Whale. His numbers may be somewhat underwhelming, but that could be due in part to the fact that he was learning a new position.

The Rangers transferred Miller from wing to center this season. Miller also played first-line center for the United States at the 2013 World Junior Championship, helping the Americans win gold with two goals, seven assists and a plus-5 rating.

"I think I learned a lot down there [in the AHL] that maybe I couldn't learn anywhere else," Miller said. "I transferred from winger to center there, and I was missing the little things maybe defensively that I needed to work on down low. So I think leaning on those things that are really important before you go play offense are huge for games like this. I'm just going to be responsible, disciplined, stay within the system to have a good game here."

Rangers coach John Tortorella, who wouldn't confirm his lineup, said the best thing he can do now is stay out of Miller's way and just let him play.

"You need to get out of his way and let him play and understand as coaches there will be some mistakes made as we go through the process here," Tortorella said. "It's a little bit different in this type of year because you just don't have all the games. As we go through we'll make decisions as far as do we think it's best to coach him here and coach his mistakes here, or do we think he needs to go back to continue playing."

Tortorella said the reports the Rangers got from Connecticut coach Ken Gernander were good. Tortorella himself also watched Miller play during the lockout and paid attention to how he did in the World Juniors as well.

"I think his game has really grown," Tortorella said. "He had a really good tournament there. He has become more consistent in Hartford."

In other lineup news, Darroll Powe is expected to make his Rangers' debut after the team acquired him in a trade from Minnesota on Monday in exchange for Mike Rupp.

Tortorella also would not rule out the possibility that Chris Kreider returns to the lineup.

Kreider, who has been dealing with bone chips in his ankle, has been out of the lineup the last five games, including the last four due to injury. He was a healthy scratch on Jan. 24 at Philadelphia.

"We'll find out," Tortorella said when asked about Kreider's availability. "I'll talk to Rammer [trainer Jim Ramsay] after and we'll see where we go."

Rangers captain Ryan Callahan is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury and likely won't be able to return for at least another week. Callahan skated the last two days.

Here are the Rangers' projected line combinations, but bear in mind they did not do line rushes or show any defense pairs Tuesday morning:

Marian Gaborik - Brad Richards - Rick Nash

Carl Hagelin - Derek Stepan - Taylor Pyatt

Darroll Powe - Brian Boyle - Jeff Halpern

Chris Kreider - J.T. Miller - Arron Asham

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Michael Del Zotto

Stu Bickel - Anton Stralman

Henrik Lundqvist

Martin Biron

Scratched: Steve Eminger, Matt Gilroy

Injured: Ryan Callahan, Michael Sauer

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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